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9 out of 10 Londoners say air pollution is at ‘crisis’ levels - poll

28 February 2017
  • Every borough has recorded illegally high pollution levels in last two years – report
  • 72 per cent demand Government action, 66 per cent say air quality bad in their local area

A new report reveals that every borough in London has recorded illegally high pollution levels whilst new polling has revealed that a large majority of Londoners believes air pollution is at crisis levels across the capital and wants the Government to take more action now. 

The poll of 1,000 Londoners found that 88 per cent think air pollution is a big problem, with 66 per cent citing air quality as bad in their local area and 72 per cent calling on ministers to do more. 

The polling, for the Greater London Authority, coincides with a new local air quality report released by the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, which showed that every London borough has recorded illegally high levels of air pollution in the last two years.

More than 9,000 Londoners die prematurely every year as a result of long-term exposure to air pollution – while 802 educational establishments including 438 schools and 27 nurseries, in the capital are in areas exceeding legal air quality levels. 

The Mayor has already taken hard-hitting action to tackle London’s toxic air head on. As well as implementing strong measures like the new T-Charge for older polluting vehicles in central London from October, Sadiq has given the boroughs a record £1 billion over five years to help them deliver local improvements, including prioritising air quality. This far exceeds the £3 million Government awarded boroughs nationally this year to tackle air pollution.  

Now the Mayor is urgently asking Government to equip him with the powers, funding and legislation needed to tackle London ‘shameful’ air quality once and for all.

Sadiq Khan said: “This polling is further proof that Londoners are rightly concerned about the toxic health crisis the filthy air in London has created. The message to Government is crystal clear. Londoners want them to step up to the plate and take urgent action.

“I’m doing everything in my power to tackle the shameful state of our air quality and boroughs are making real progress on local measures. However, without adequate support from Government Londoners will continue to be scared of the air they breathe. Now is the time for Government to step up and deliver a national vehicle scrappage fund and the new Clean Air Act we desperately need.”

The Mayor’s borough report details the air quality actions 32 London boroughs and the City of London implemented in 2015.  It found that all boroughs exceeded legal limits for the toxic gas nitrogen dioxide. Furthermore, City of London, Lambeth and Waltham Forest exceeded legal limits for the particulate matter (or PM10) which are tiny airborne particles which can become lodged deep in the heart and lungs.

Boroughs are implementing many positive schemes to tackle air pollution including:

  • Expanding electric vehicle infrastructure by providing new electric charge points in residential areas; 
  • Expanding low-emission car clubs and enforcing emission based parking permits;
  • Incorporating air quality into local planning measures including assessing the building of new schools and housing in pollution hot spots;
  • Promoting travel / walking and cycling  schemes;
  • Implementing traffic and road restrictions on busiest most polluting routes;

Hackney is launching ‘school streets’ - road closures around schools to address the pollution and safety problems associated with the school run.


Camden and City of London are leading by example by committing to stop purchasing any more diesel vehicles in their fleet (unless there is an absolute operational necessity).


Westminster has introduced a diesel parking surcharge where motorists driving diesel models will have to pay an extra 50 per cent on the normal charge, £4.90-an-hour, to park their car or van in a short-term parking bay.


The Mayor has doubled TfL’s funding spent on air quality to £875million over the next five years. This includes spending more than £300m transforming London’s bus fleet by phasing out pure double-deck diesel buses and has committed to purchase only hybrid or zero-emission double decker buses from 2018.

Notes to editors

  • The poll was conducted by YouGov Plc. Results are based on interviews with 1,000 London residents aged 18+. Interviews were carried out online between 20 and 23 Feb 2017. The data has been weighted and is representative of all London adults. Topline results and data tables are available on London Datastore:
  • To view the Borough report, follow the link.

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